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Sepultura - "Kairos" (CD)

Sepultura - "Kairos" CD cover image

"Kairos" track listing:

1. Spectrum (4:03)
2. Kairos (3:37)
3. Relentless (3:36)
4. 2011 (0:30)
5. Just One Fix (Ministry cover) (3:33)
6. Dialog (4:57)
7. Mask (4:31)
8. 1433 (0:31)
9. Seethe (2:27)
10. Born Strong (4:40)
11. Embrace the Storm (3:32)
12. 5772 (0:29)
13. No One Will Stand (3:17)
14. Structure Violence (Azzes) (5:39)
15. 4648 (8:22)

Reviewed by on June 29, 2011

"While only half of the classic lineup is still in the band, 'Kairos' sounds much more like old Sepultura than the band's past few albums, which is what fans have wanted for years."

I never thought that Sepultura would be able to make another classic album without Max Cavalera. While “Roorback” and “Dante XXI” were worth listening to, it seemed like the band who once wrote albums like “Beneath the Remains” were no longer able to recapture the magic they once had. I was thankfully proven wrong. “Kairos” is the band's best effort since “Chaos A.D.”

While only half of the classic lineup is still in the band, “Kairos” sounds much more like old Sepultura than the band's past few albums, which is what fans have wanted for years. The riffs are thrashier, the solos are flashier and the songwriting is tighter that it has been since Max left the band. “Kairos” is a return to the band's roots in more ways than one.

At a time when thrash metal is actually back in style, it was inevitable that Sepultura would follow in the footsteps of Metallica and make an album that would appeal to the new wave of thrash fans listening to bands like Evile and Havok. “Kairos” sees the band revisit the past without losing momentum. The album should not only appeal to longtime fans of the band, but bring in a younger audience who may have never heard of Sepultura.

Aided by Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford producer Roy Z, “Kairos” sounds incredible. The guitar tone is great, the bass is audible and the drums pound rather than click. While the band may look to the past for inspiration, the production is thankfully modern and not nearly as raw and dry as “Schizophrenia” or “Beneath the Remains.” The result is an album that sounds better than so many attempts by modern thrash bands who are obsessed with sounding “retro.”

Unlike most returns to form, “Kairos” doesn’t sound like the band ever changed their sound. Instead, it sounds like the album that should have come after “Chaos A.D.,” despite the loss of the Cavalera brothers. The sound that made Sepultura famous - the heavy grooves, technical solos, repetitive yet catchy riffing and gruff vocals - is back and it feels natural rather than forced. This is the album that the band should have been making all along, but fans never thought they would.

That's not to say that the band isn't experimenting anymore. The tribal music from “Roots” and “Against” returns on “Structure Violence (Azzes),” while Sepultura also includes experiments with industrial influences on covers of Ministry's “Just One Fix” and The Prodigy's “Firestarter.” While most of the music is raw and stripped down, it's good to see that the band is still willing to branch out.

Passing the age of 40 hasn't hurt bassist Paulo and guitarist Andreas Kisser one bit. These are the fastest tempos that the band has played at since “Arise” and the heaviest riffs since “Chaos A.D.” I'm happy to see that much like other '80s thrash acts, Sepultura can join Metallica, Megadeth and Testament in teaching newer bands like Warbringer and Skeletonwitch a thing or two about thrash metal.

One of the best parts of “Kairos” is hearing vocalist Derrick Green not only do his best Max Cavalera impression, but stretch his vocal range between barking, howling, growling and screaming. While he no longer does any actual singing, Derrick is consistently interesting. Derrick will never be Max, but the excellent job he does helps me forget all about Max no longer being part of the band.

This brings up the biggest problem with “Kairos.” Soulfly fans are still going to hate this album out of spite for not featuring Max. It's a shame, since “Kairos” is far more interesting than the latest Cavalera Conspiracy album, which was far too one-dimensional for my tastes. “Kairos” is the best thrash album that I've heard in two years, despite coming from of an aging band revisiting past achievements. Fans who gave up on the band after "Roots" need to give “Kairos” a listen. It's one of the best metal albums of the year.

Highs: Sounds like old Sepultura, the band's best solos in years, great production and mixing, Derrick Green hasn't sounded this good since "Roorback"

Lows: Some riffs go on for too long, Soulfly fans won't come anywhere near it

Bottom line: An excellent return to form and the band's first essential album since 1996.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)